Although not expressly granted by the Constitution, broad powers of investigation have been exercised by Congress, dating almost from the establishment of the federal government. The first investigation by a congressional committee “empowered to call for such persons, papers and records as may be necessary to assist their inquiries” was ordered by the House of Representatives in 1792. During the early years all of the more important investigations were conducted by committees of the lower house. In recent years the Senate has more and more assumed the functions of a grand inquest of the nation.
Notwithstanding the absence of any express constitutional authority, the power of either the House or the Senate to order investigations into any matter of public interest or concern, and to ...